Did ABC's Back in the Game Hit a Home Run?

Back in the GameIf you’re a fan of an “anything you can do” approach to the gender war, then you’re in luck — the female protagonist of ABC’s new father-daughter baseball comedy Back in the Game (which premiered Wednesday at 8:30/7:30c) shouts “Yes, I can!” in response to all of the challenges her sexist surroundings hurl her way. But was the show a grand slam or a strike-out for you?

A brief recap: After a messy divorce, Terry (Maggie Lawson, Psych) is forced to take her son, Danny (Griffin Gluck, Private Practice), and move back in with her beer-guzzling, racoon-feeding, ex-athlete father, “The Cannon” (James Caan, Las Vegas).

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Terry was a star softball player in college, and her father’s obsession with the game ruined her childhood. So when Danny expresses an interest in America’s pastime, his mom is concerned; she doesn’t want stolen bases to turn into a stolen childhood for him, too. After Danny flubs his try-outs and doesn’t make the team, however, Terry realizes how badly he wants to play.  So she and boozy Brit Lulu (Lenora Crichlow, Being Human) convince misogynist coach Dick (Ben Koldyke, Work It) — via a baseball to the face — to let her coach a B-team.

Thus begins the Bad New Bears portion of our program. Terry and her father bond over coaching this island of misfit boys, allowing Danny and Lulu’s effete son Michael (J.J. Totah, Jessie) to play ball.

Although Lawson is charmingly wry, Caan reliably gruff and Crichlow amusingly bawdy, Game‘s outdated humor earns it more errors than hits. Michael’s Gaga-loving persona is presented as something worthy of mockery and derision; Terry warns the boys that people are going to call them “weird, and creepy, and foreign, and ga– feminine” — but it’s the show itself that is cruelest to its misfits, telling them that being different is tantamount to being wrong.

The episode’s funniest joke is an extended riff on how long it takes Dick to… recover between at-bats; we hope that, like him, a bit of time is all that’s needed for this show hit one into the bleachers.

But enough about what we thought: What was your take on Back in the Game? Grade the episode via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sarah says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Zach says:

    I thought it was perfect. Amazing that ABC picked up something as great as this, and something as bad as Super Fun Night.

  3. Esaul says:

    I forgot it was on. But I will watch when it’s up on Hulu tomorrow. :D

  4. In my opinion, it’s three strikes and this sitcom is out.

  5. Amz says:

    I thought it was one of the better comedy of the fall shows.

  6. Anon says:

    I find your review a lot different the the first impression done by this site, and that’s what I am going with. I understand it has Bad News Bears vibes but there is no “Bad News Bears portion” because it’s not about the team, they AREN’T getting better, it’s about the family! I found this show very enjoyable and likeable, I hope it continues on this season!

    • Aly says:

      I agree, Matt’s post about this show was far better and more accurate imo.

    • Meredith says:

      I agree with you and disagree with the reviewer’s assessment. I think the greater message Terry is trying to give the boys is to stand up for themselves and not let the bullies get the better of them. I found Michael’s persona endearing and appreciate that the character’s mother is encouraging him to be himself instead of trying to get him to hide it. I wish they could assign reviewers to shows they actually enjoyed, or at the very least they could pretend to be objective.

      • Anon says:

        I forget which site but they hit it on the nose with their review about this show and exactly what you said. How even though they have no talent in baseball and were cut from the other teams because of this and their quirky personalities, this team, the Angles, will allow them to both play baseball and not have to hide those personalities, they will be allowed to be who they are. And Terry and the coach is going to let them :)

  7. Kate says:

    I wasnt all that interested in seeing back In the game, but it was on after the Middle, so We just kept it on. I’m glad we did. I really enjoyed it. It had some funny & cute moments. It was an easy watch & I think one of the better new comedies. I hope ABC gives it a chance because I see a lot of potential.

  8. dork4tv says:

    I thought it was awesome! Funny and irreverent, but you can tell it’s also got heart. Considering this was the pilot, I thought it was an especially good showing. Good writing and a great cast, it’s hands down my favorite new show this fall!

  9. Jake says:

    Fans if psych will see a completely different Maggie Lawson. She is great

  10. Keith says:

    It’s good to Lenora Crichlow again.She was Annie on the original Being Human

  11. Alex says:

    It’s a comedy, so it automatically stinks.

  12. So far, “The Cannon” is the best curmudgeonly character since Archie Bunker.

  13. Amanda says:

    I love Maggie Lawson from Psych and I always enjoy watching James Caan. But I have to agree with the review above, it seemed really stale and canned with antiquated stereotypes. I’ll give it a couple more episodes though, because sometimes it takes a little while for a show to find it’s groove. Hopefully it can throw a few curveballs to make it more interesting.

  14. Jay says:

    I thought it was AWFUL. Worst pilot i have seen in years and Maggie Lawson is wasting her comedic talent on this. Unoriginal, uninspired and cheesy, not to mention cringe worthy At least Maggie is still on Psych and has Juliet as well, O’Hara will be her greatest legacy. This i am afraid will not. Thumbs down from me. Back in the Game is a dud!

    • Anon says:

      We all know you didn’t like it, we knew you didn’t like it all the way from the first impression, so stop spamming this show with your hate/stop watching/ and get on with your life. Allow those who enjoyed it to enjoy it…

      • Robb says:

        Pretty sure that is his first comment on this page. Let him have his opinion and stop wasting your time/life on him. Allow those who didn’t enjoy it, have their opinion.

        • Jay says:

          Thanks Robb :)

        • Anon says:

          If you see all of his other posts on other sites and on tvline (including a poll for our fandom name) he has continually been hating on the show, he didn’t like it before he even saw it so you don’t know what you are talking about. And I am not wasting my time/life on him btw!

        • Grace says:

          I believe Anon didn’t mean this page, I think she meant the show and all the reviews about the show. He has felt the need to comment on how much he hates it on almost everything…

  15. Roger Canada says:

    It was OK, a good family show so a good fit with The Middle, not very funny but a lot better productions than Mom and Dads and a lot less dirty jokes (Im looking at you too 2 broke girls)

  16. Melanie says:

    Trying to watch It On Demand; it’s not there. Think it will show up later? I don’t have Hulu. :-(

  17. pam says:

    If I laugh out loud a few times, then it’s good enough for me. The British friend was funny. I think it has the makings of a successful sitcom. It’s not Modern Family, but they set the bar pretty high.

  18. Justin says:

    I wanted to hate it so that Maggie will go back to Psych but I couldn’t. It had the most and best laughs of any show I watched last night.

    • Jay says:

      Maggie is still doing Psych as well, she is on both shows. Season 8 of Psych has already been filmed and will air next year… Juliet isn’t going anywhere, even Maggie said so last night on twitter Maggie is still very much on Psych and in fact next season is going to be a strong season for Juliet. Oh an to the crazy anon, i am not the only one that thinks this show is awful as you can see for yourself. Just because you are a crazy fan i’ll let it go but we are all entitled to our opinions and i am not spamming at all. One comment is not spamming. Thank you. I love Maggie, i am a huge fan and supporter, but i think this was a bad move for her career.

  19. Ethel says:

    Turned it off half way through. Watching Maggie Lawson throw a ball is like watching a 6 yr old not someone who supposedly was a star athlete. Show is not funny will be surprised if it lasts 10 episodes

  20. HAP says:

    Loved Maggie. James Caan basically plays himself in that role.

  21. Susie Singer says:


    First episode set the direction, and I can’t wait to find out how the kids do,
    how the relationship evolves between father and daughter, and what
    mischief comes next…..

    What a fabulous show!


  22. edlow says:

    Was shocked to listen to the sons language. He cussed with his mom, said things like I am screwed etc.. i know that nowadays people look at that and shrug th eir shoulders like its no big deal…. for me that is still behavior I don’t find acceptable, not for my kids nor do I want to listen to someone else’s trashy talking kids.

    I wont tne in if the children n the show continue to cuss and act like trash.

  23. Puddin34 says:

    Really, edlow? This type of language offends you? I’m not trying to be mean here, but what shows do/can you watch? Seriously.

    Back on topic: GREAT show!!! Love it! My new favorite show. Episode 2 showed comedy and a touch of drama with a great score. Please let this run, ABC. You give us decent shows all of the time only to pull them if they are not in the Top Ten. Let this one live!

  24. Don says:

    This was a promising comedy… a family comedy. However, in the third episode it took a turn to the dark side. The humor was so crude and targeted to the wrong audience. What a shame.

  25. Sandra says:

    I am really disappinted with this last episode….